A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
selves in our cinema heroes, it is said, and maybe I recall in him
the same besetting sense of inferiority with which I had to battle
before I realized that the world was not worth taking at its own
Thirdly, I might point out that Chaplin and I possess a great
deal in common. Our professions, for instance! He, as a comedian,
tries to show people a way of escape from worldly realities. His
particular way of\escape is laughter. I, as a superficial unacademic
philosopher, try to show people a way of escape from worldly reality,
too. My particular way is mental quiet!
Humour is a mysterious quality which the gods have given to
fallen mankind as a soporific substitute for the divine exaltation it
has lost. It provides an excellent way of liberating oneself from the
dismal effect of misfortunes, from drab environments, from un-
pleasant realities and persons, but above all from one's personal ego.
The man who can laugh at himself has to that extent acquired some
degree of impersonality. The spiritual philosopher aims at precisely
the same effects. He too seeks to liberate himself from all these things.
His method alone differs. He merely quietens thought, for he knows
that a thing cannot hurt until it is allowed to intrude among his
In any event, I would not give my scornful visitor more reasons
than these three. If,, I, in common with many millions of other
people, regard Chaplin with real affection, I need not be ashamed
of sticking his portrait on the wall.
His popularity is something phenomenal. His name carries with
it the international interest of a high politician's. I do not know how
many millions of people look forward to his pictures as I do (my
wanderings have made me miss more than one alas!) When he
visited Paris the French went mad about him, while a Cabinet
Minister publicly pinned a decoration of honour on his coat! In the
larger cities of Asia he is as renowned and as beloved as in the
automobile-filled cities of the United States. The Russians hold him
enthusiastically in as high esteem-as they do any of their Communist
Commissars. For he speaks a universal language, which men of
white, brown, yellow and black skins understand almost equally
well -the language of humour and of pathos.
His little toothbrush moustache, his comical cane, his big
shapeless boots and his funny clothes are world-renowned. His
clowning is priceless. Those inimitable postures, those gestures of
melancholy resignation, that forlorn, battered, tramp-like figure,
that naive, child-like character—all endear hirn to us. That aston-
ishing awkward gait of his comes from the realm of inspiration.
He learnt it from an old London horse-cabman, whose bad feet